Gaming startup Versyv is unveiling RiddleVerse, a skill-based game that offers cash prizes for people who can solve riddles. The twist is that the riddles are primarily created only for RiddleVerse, and so cheaters can’t get the answers by doing a Google search.
San Francisco-based Versyv has a very original business, and it has taken its model from other skill-based game companies. It has raised $750,000 in seed funding from private investors, and it hopes to give mobile and web players a new kind of experience with just three original riddles posted once a day.
“This mystifying and misleading puzzle to be solved, holds far less aggravation when cash prizes are involved,” the company said in its announcement.
RiddleVerse is the brainchild of Andrew Gladney, CEO and founder of Versyv and a life-long riddler. Gladney, who founded the company last year, has been a fan of riddles ever since he read the Riddles in the Dark chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, where protagonist Bilbo Baggins solves riddles for his life with the creature Gollum. Gladney writes the majority of the riddles himself and is the managing editor of a team of writers who help.
Each contest requires an entry fee of roughly $1 to participate, and cash prizes are awarded to the fastest correct answers.
“We have created an amalgamation of an old familiar game concept, with a specific brand of riddle,” Gladney said in an interview with GamesBeat. “That comes from my background of doing this for 20 years. We’ve superimposed it on a cool, clean concept that allows people to solve these riddles. And we have cash prizes to add to the announcement.”
“The most clear influence on my riddling is J.R.R. Tolkien,” said Gladney. “I think he invented this riddle form which we call riddling in verses. I was an English major in college. I always like rhyming verse. Soon enough, I was writing my own. I kept a collection and catalogued them all. Through consultations with other people, the game concept of RiddleVerse came up.”
The game will debut next month on iOS and the web. Once completed and approved, the riddles are stored in a secure vault to which only the RiddleMaster, Gladney, has access. The riddles are selected for publication randomly – at the time of each contest – with published riddles entering into the rotation for the free-to- play contests after they have been originally used in the paid contests. Gladney has assembled hundreds of his original riddles for the launch, and new riddles are submitted daily, by both Gladney and his team of writers, to sustain and grow the contests well into the future.
“We’ve merged an entertainment concept that has long been enjoyed and universally known with the added thrill of winning cash prizes, creating an entirely new game category in the process,” said Daniel Norcia, chief marketing officer of Versyv. “RiddleVerse combines the literary elegance of original riddles written in rhyming verse with the challenge of a competitive game of mental skill – there’s nothing else out there like it.”
Norcia said, “At a set time each day, at 4 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm Pacific time, we will publish a riddle. People pay an entry fee. The first correct answer submission is rewarded with a cash prize.” Players can buy up to three clues with real money.
Each contest has about 100 winners, with more money for the top winners. Over time, the prizes will go up in value. I tried to solve the riddle on the left, but I couldn’t do it in a short time. I suggested that they have a penalty if you guess an answer wrong: You will be eaten. (That was the risk that Bilbo ran in his riddle game with Gollum).
“The riddles cover a wide spectrum of generally known subjects,” Gladney said. “We use misleading metaphors to conceal the answer. When people get it, they scream. That’s always very satisfying for us.”